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How to Choose a Bike Rack for a Fifth-Wheel or Pop-Up Camper

Bicycle mounted on bicycle carrier at back of travel trailer

Can I carry bikes and tow my trailer?


Being able to bring bikes along on a camping trip can help turn a good trip into a great trip. There are a number of different ways to carry bikes along while towing a camper, and the best option will depend on the camper's style. Some of the options for carrying bikes while towing are: in a hitch receiver on the camper, on the trailer's bumper, on the trailer's A-frame, at the ball mount, in the truck bed, on the roof, or in a front mount hitch.


How Can I Carry My Bikes?





Hitch Mounted Bike Rack

Trailer type diagrams with checkmarks
Hitch-mounted bicycle carrier with bikes on trailer

When looking for a hitch bike rack to mount on a trailer, it is important to make sure the bike rack is approved by the manufacturer for RV/trailer use. This is to ensure that the rack can stand up to the force exerted on it at the back of the trailer. Hitch mounted racks are available to carry up to 4 bikes at the back of the camper. The biggest benefit to using a hitch mount bike rack is that it can then also be used on the tow vehicle when the trailer isn't attached. After setting up the trailer at the campsite, the rack can be transferred to the truck and the bikes can be driven to the trailhead.

Hitch mounted platform bicycle carrier Hitch mounted hanging bicycle carrier Hitch mounted hanging bicycle carrier
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Hitch receiver mounted on camper

There are a couple of options when it comes to choosing a trailer hitch receiver for a camper trailer. The hitch receiver can either be mounted to the trailer bumper or installed on the trailer frame. The durability of the trailer bumper and the width of the frame are factors that will determine which hitch type is best suited for your camper. If the bumper is not designed to carry additional weight or it is not reinforced, a frame mount hitch receiver is the way to go. A bumper mounted receiver typically requires a continuous welded steel bumper, most often measuring 4 inches x 4 inches.


Watch a frame mount trailer hitch installation
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Bumper Mounted Bike Rack

Trailer type diagrams with checkmarks
Hitch receiver mounted on popup camper

If you don't want to install a hitch receiver on your trailer, a bumper mounted bike rack is a great option. These racks use U-bolts or mounting plates to clamp around the 5th wheel's bumper. Bumper mounted bike racks are available in both hanging and platform style racks. It is important to make sure your trailer's bumper can handle a bike rack. A bumper mounted bike rack typically requires a continuous welded steel bumper, most often measuring 4 inches x 4 inches. Aluminum or spot welded trailer bumpers are usually not strong enough to handle the weight of a bike rack and bikes.

Bumper mounted bicycle carrier for campers Bumper mounted bicycle carrier for campers

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Rear-Facing Ladder Bike Rack

Trailer type diagrams with checkmarks
Ladder mounted bicycle carrier on RV ladder with with bicycle installed

If your camper has a rear-facing ladder, a ladder bike rack is another option for carrying bikes. Ladder mounted bike racks offer the capacity to carry 2 bikes. The bikes are carried vertically and supported by the frame member between the seat post and the pedals. These bike racks are great for lightweight bikes or children's bikes.

Ladder mounted bicycle carrier for RVs and motorhomes Ladder mounted bicycle carrier for RVs and motorhomes

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Tow Vehicle Roof Bike Rack

Trailer type diagrams with checkmarks
Roof mounted bicycle carrier on vehicle roof with bike installed

A roof rack allows bikes to be carried on the roof of the truck. Much like hitch racks, a roof rack will also allow the transportation of bikes when not towing a trailer. Roof mount racks are a great solution when a variety of bikes are coming along on the trip. With a roof rack, each bike can have the best style rack for the bike's style. One thing to keep in mind when carrying bikes on your tow vehicle's roof is the height of your vehicle. The height of the newer model pickup trucks can present a challenge in mounting the bike racks. To help reach the top of your tow vehicle, consider running boards, a tire step, or a step stool can be helpful.


Wheel mount roof mounted bicycle carrier Frame mount roof mounted bicycle carrier Frame mount roof mounted bicycle carrier Fork mount roof mounted bicycle carrier
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If your tow vehicle doesn't already have a roof rack, you can check out your vehicle's fitguide to find a custom fit roof rack option.





Front Mount Hitch Bike Rack

Trailer type diagrams with checkmarks

If the tow vehicle has a front mount hitch, a standard hitch mount bike rack can be used to carry bikes on the front of the tow vehicle. Some people prefer to carry bikes on the front of the vehicle so the bikes can stay in view from the truck cab. The things to keep in mind when carrying bikes on the front of the vehicle are to make sure the bikes won't block the headlights when driving at night and to make sure the airflow to the radiator isn't limited by the bikes. When not towing, a hitch bike rack can be used at the rear of the vehicle, or on another vehicle, to take the bikes to the trailhead.

Images of front mount hitch bicycle carriers
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For a front mount hitch for your tow vehicle, check out our fitguide to find a custom fit hitch for your vehicle.





Bike Bunk

Trailer type diagrams with checkmarks
Bike Bunk bicycle carrier installed with bikes mounted

Stromberg Carlson's Bike Bunk is a great option to carry bikes between the trailer and tow vehicle. The Bike Bunk allows the bikes to stay in view without blocking the front of the vehicle. The important thing to keep in mind with the Bike Bunk is its weight capacity. The weight of the bike rack and bikes on the Bike Bunk must total no more than 100 pounds. Also keep in mind that the bike rack used with the Bike Bunk should be approved for use on a trailer. We like to recommend a lightweight bike rack be used with the Bike Bunk and have found that it works best with no more than 2 bikes.

Bike Bunk bicycle carrier Bike bunk installed on trailer
Watch a Bike Bunk review video



Ball Mount Bike Rack

Trailer type diagrams with checkmarks
Ball mount bicycle carrier installed with bike mounted

Another way to carry bikes between the tow vehicle and the trailer is to use a bike rack that mounts onto the ball mount. These style bike racks have either a built-in ball mount or will mount around a 2 inch ball mount shank. These bike racks are available in both hanging and platform style bike racks and are made to accommodate from 2 to 4 bikes. Keep in mind however, with 3 or more bikes on this style rack turning clearance could be limited.


Ball mount bicycle carrier Ball mount bicycle carrier Ball mount bicycle carrier
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Truck Bed Bike Rack

Trailer type diagrams with checkmarks
Truck bed bicycle installed with bike mounted

If towing a travel trailer with a pickup truck, the truck bed is another place to carry the bikes. There are a number of different options to carrying bikes in the truck bed, such as fork mount racks, frame mount racks, wheel mount racks, and tailgate pads. Between these bike rack options, there is a rack to fit nearly every bike and every truck bed.



Truck bed mount bicycle carrier Truck bed mount bicycle carrier Truck bed mount bicycle carrier
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Camper Roof Bike Rack

Trailer type diagrams with checkmarks
Ball mount bicycle carrier installed with bike mounted

Some pop-up campers come with a roof mounting system installed from the factory. For those that don't, an aftermarket roof rack can be added. A standard roof mounted bike rack works well on top of the pop-up to bring along everyone's bikes. Carrying the bikes on top of the pop-up works well to keep the overall height of setup lower than if the bikes were on top of the tow vehicle. Carrying the bikes on the pop-up also helps reduce the wind drag from the bikes because they are behind the tow vehicle. Typically the roof of the pop-up is lower than the roof of the tow vehicle, making it easier to load the bikes.

Camper roof bike rack installed on camper Truck bed mount bicycle carrier
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